In 1997, a 47-year-old man from Houston, Texas, decided to make it his life's mission to visit every Starbucks location in the world — and enjoy a hot cup of coffee at each and every cafe.
Winter (who was born Rafael Antonio Lozano Jr., but has since legally changed his name) has already visited 15,000 Starbucks shops, but he's still finding his groove.
Winter is a little more than halfway there (Starbucks currently has more than 30,000 stores around the world), but on Wednesday he hit a major milestone, visiting lucky store No. 15,000: a Starbucks in Lima, Peru. When that location opened in 2003, it was the first Starbucks to open in South America.
Today, there are over 1,000 on the continent.
During his travels around the world to sip coffee, Winter has visited nearly 12,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada, plus more than 3,000 locations in 55 countries globally.
When it comes to his favorites, Winter says he considers the design and physical attributes of each store.
So far, Winter says the Dazaifu Tenmangu Sando location in Fukuoka, Japan, is his favorite.
"The architecture is amazing," Winter told TODAY. "The wooden beams go all the way back. It is singularly unique."
That breaks with many other opinions, which have declared a Starbucks in Milan as the most beautiful in the world.
Winter's next top pick is in one of his favorite cities: Paris, France. He describes the Capucines location in the City of Light as "the most beautifully ornate store in the entire world." That cafe features chandeliers, stone columns and an ornate ceiling.
"It looks like you’re in a palace, literally, when you walk in," Winter said.
He's also a fan of Starbucks' roastery stores, which serve freshly roasted coffee from around the world, including the locations in Seattle and Manhattan. He also plans to visit new roastery locations in Shanghai and Tokyo.
Winter's hobby of visiting Starbucks, which he documents on StarbucksEverywhere.net, helped one of his friends coin the term "Starbucking," which has since caught on. He says several others have been inspired to do the same, though none have approached anywhere close to 15,000 stores. Winter even starred in his own documentary, "Starbucking," which is available to watch on Amazon and eBay.
TODAY reached out to Guinness World Records to confirm Winter's achievement, but they do not currently track Starbucks visits.
As a freelance computer engineer who travels to different locations for work, Winter is able to travel the world without disrupting his regular life. However, he did make a slightly unconventional decision to live out of his car to help fund his travels.
"It’s been instrumental in allowing me to afford Starbucking to the extent I’ve pursued it over the past year," Winter said, explaining that he's spent at least $150,000 on the hobby to date.
So how did it all begin?
Winter says he used to hang out at Starbucks back in Texas and that's when his collectors' mentality (he collected comic books for most of his life) kicked in, leading him to visit more stores.
With Starbucks' growing footprint around the globe, Winter's desire to see more stores simply grew, giving him the chance to see the world, as well.
With a goal of enjoying a coffee at each location visited, Winter says he's learned to ask for a sample at each store ... though his record is 29 cups of coffee in one day. His favorite drink is simply the regular drip coffee Verona blend. No fancy Frappuccinos for this Starbucks pro!
Asked whether he'll ever stop, Winter said he has no plans of ending his Starbucking habit anytime soon.
"This is a lifetime project for me," he said. "I hope to be doing it into my 70s."